A job interview can be a nerve-racking experience no matter how well you have prepared. Part of the tension lies in the fact that you just don’t know what questions you’ll be asked. While there’ll be some that you can be pretty sure will come up, interviewers do often like to throw in a couple of curveball queries that help them to understand you better, test your on-the-spot thinking and clarify any parts of your employment history that may look a little unclear.

The good news is that interviewers can often have a set of ‘go-to’ tough questions that you can prepare for. Many will rely on the tried and tested queries that they know have helped gauge an individual’s suitability for a role, and that means that you can prepare your answers should you come up against a question that might otherwise have left you speechless.

In this blog, we’ll run through some of the more challenging questions and outline how you should answer them.

What is your greatest weakness?

This is a classic tough query that interviewers ask. As you might expect, they’re not really asking you what your greatest weakness is. While honesty is usually the best policy, if you’re asked this question, then you should avoid being too honest. The key is to disguise a strength as a weakness or, at the very least, present an acceptable weakness and outline how you are working on it.

For example, a good answer would be to say that in the past, you tried to take on too much at your work. The conceit would be that you’re working to correct this impulse. You could also mention a weakness (you’re not great working in isolation) in the context of a strength (you’re amazing at working with a team to deliver an end-goal).

Why are you leaving your current job?

The bulk of the conversation will be around what you can bring to the position you’re applying for and why you want to work with the company. But there’s also the small matter of the current job you’re leaving, and the interviewer may want to know why you’re jumping ship and looking for a new company to work for.

They’re just trying to figure out whether you’ll be a good fit for the new role. Here, it’s best to just be honest. If you value your time at your present company but you feel you’ve achieved everything in the role and there are no options to progress within the company, then say that. But remember to keep it professional. Telling a potential new employer that you don’t get along with your manager or colleagues, for example, could set alarm bells ringing.

Why do you want to work here?

If asked this, job seekers may be thinking that the simple answer is; “because I need a job.” But for a potential employer, this isn’t the response they’re looking for. The interviewer wants to understand that you’ve thought about their company and how you can fit in with its future growth. While some interviewees focus on the ins and outs of the role, that should form only part of their answer. Before the interview, research the company’s values, history and position in the market. There’ll be something about those things that appeal to you or which are in-line with your own views – hone in on these in your response.

How do you deal with conflict at work?

It doesn’t matter how well-suited you are to the role or how much you normally get on with your colleagues. At some point or another, there will be conflict at the workplace – it’s just part and parcel of working at a company. It’s not the conflict itself that employers are interested in, but how you handle the problem.

If your answer is that you run straight to management to complain about a colleague, then you’re not dealing with the problem – you’re just passing it on. Emphasising your willingness to engage with problems, such as by talking with your colleagues and finding a solution, is the correct way to answer this question.

What can you tell us about yourself?

Is there anything worse than being asked to discuss yourself, without any context? The important thing to remember here is that there is context: you’re in a job interview. As such, talking about your hobbies and previous travel experiences is not relevant (unless, of course, they’re related to the job). Instead, talk about your educational and professional background, what motivates you, why you’ve applied for this position, and so forth. Also, avoid rambling. A concise answer is all that’s needed.

Conclusion

This is far from an exhaustive list of the questions you may be asked at your next job interview. If you encounter one that isn’t on this list, then we’ll just say this: have faith in yourself! If you’ve made it to the interview stage, then there must be something about you that you like. Bring your best self and be honest, and you’ll be fine.

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